In my office sits a shelf filled with books.
I’ve read a lot of them, and I’ve glanced at many of the others, and thought I bet that’s got some good information, but I don’t have time for it right now.
What’s worse, is I keep finding out about new books I want to read, so I have a list of about 4 that I’m hoping to get to.
And when I have books to look forward to, I can’t fully commit to what I’m on because I’m excited about what is next. It’s hard to keep up with it all.
But in all that information, there is one book on the shelf that I can always come back to.
Even if I’m not reading it at the time, I’ll just look at the cover and be reminded of principles that I can immediately put into action that help me in my work.
That book is Good to Great by Jim Collins.
Good to Great
The book is a research-based work that dives into what separates the truly great companies from everybody else. Collins set out to see if any pattern emerged, or if the great companies happened to find the right breaks and luck to set themselves apart.
Not surprisingly, a pattern did emerge, and Good to Great provides knowledge that has helped businesses and entrepreneurs for more than a decade.
The Hedgehog Concept
One key point Collins makes in the work is the strategy of the hedgehog concept. He found that the best companies in the world didn’t try to capture every opportunity that crossed their path.
Instead they stayed relentlessly focused on what made them great. They knew who they were, and what they cared about most and poured their resources into that.
The good, but not great companies, had the tendency to keep running toward the next opportunity, but never truly going deep into what made them unique.
From Good to Great:
“In a world overrun by management faddists, brilliant visionaries, ranting futurists, fear mongers, motivational gurus, and all the rest, it’s refreshing to see a company succeed so brilliantly by taking one simple concept and just doing it with excellence and imagination.”
Collins said the great companies spent nearly all their time on just three things:
1. What you can be the best in the world at
2. What drives your economic engine
3. What you are deeply passionate about
The lens through which to view all activity
While Collins wrote about big corporations, the Hedgehog Concept can be applied to solo entrepreneurs, small business and even individuals in their own lives.
The point is that you need to find a way to focus intensely on the activity that produces results.
You need to be working either on what you are really good at, what you are really passionate about or what makes you money. Ideally, you want overlapping circles where you have bits of all three in everything you do.
The first step in putting the Hedgehog concept to work is to be brutally honest about who you are and who you want to be.
Then you can define what makes you money, what you are passionate about and what you are great at. Once you have this defined you can have a lens to view all activity.
The Hedgehog seems so simple and logical. It not only seems productive, but seems like it would bring peace of mind, because we’d be able to focus and simplify our lives.
But why is it hard?
The reason we struggle to get it right is something called FOMO.
Fear Of Missing Out.
To truly be great and disciplined in focus, you have to be really good at saying no to things. You have to close doors for yourself.
For many entrepreneurs that can be the hardest thing to do.
We like to think we can do it all ourselves. We fear that if we focus on just one thing, that we’ll miss out on all the other great opportunities around us.
But that’s the difference between good and great. If you try to be good at everything, that’s exactly what you’ll be. Good. Never great.
It’s those who know who they are, commit to doing what they do, and are willing to miss out on what they are not deeply passionate about, who can truly find greatness.